“I aim to maintain the artistic character of each jewellery piece I design, in terms of colours, shapes, and drawings, whether made of fancy or simple materials,” said the artist and jewellery designer Basant Nashaat.
Nashaat was graduated from the Faculty of Fine Arts, Mural Painting Department in 2012. She worked as a lecturer at the Higher Institute of Applied Art, and recently founded her brand “Line & tile crafts”.
Daily News Egypt interviewed Nashaat to learn more about her art journey.
Why did you leave academia?
I quit the Higher Institute of Applied Arts after spending five years teaching graphic arts, during which I benefited and enriched my experience. However, I found that the academic job limits the abilities of the artist and designer, and it also wasted my time, especially since the academic work was not my aspiration. I have a project and I want to develop it. I seek to accomplish successive steps for my brand.
What is your project?
I founded a brand, called “Line & tile crafts”, through which I offer works of art, including mural painting and jewellery, and some of my works are on display for sale in private galleries.
Why did not you work in a jewellery company?
Certainly every place can add experience to us, but I did not like the idea of job itself, and companies deprive the designer from getting into his own experience, and prevent him from his moral right to put his name on his artworks. Besides, companies limit capabilities of designers, and turning them into employees influenced by market ideas.
Do you see the designer being affected by the market is a negative thing?
I did not mean that artists should not identify the needs of the markets, but he should not be driven by “the most selling design”. He should not be controlled by the policy of “sales volume”.
Designers everywhere are motivated to change the tastes of society, and put forward different styles, for example Azza Fahmy has a different experience from the market and she did not get affected by traditional designs, but maintained her style.
Do you follow the works of companies or other designers?
Certainly, but I do like only the works that resemble me, as most of jewellery now felt strange for me, in whether because of their design or inadequacy of wearing them for women.
I am always looking for “a story” to employ it in my work, or even in the jewellery I buy.
What do you mean by “story”?
I mean a narrative of heritage, daily life stories of people, or habits and cultures. I use them in making my artworks whether jewellery or mural paintings, and I express them in different styles and materials
What are the elements and forms you use to express the “story”?
I am interested in two things in my artwork in general; looking for the “story” as I said, and expressing it through “collage”, which is the mixing and integration of materials.
What materials do you use in your artworks?
I use different materials, such as copper, silver, mosaics, cloth, and scrap, to create artistic pieces of jewellery, applying different colours and drawings in each piece of jewellery. I always deal with each piece of jewellery as a painting or mural.
Has your study of fine arts affected your jewellery design?
Of course, I feel that I have a special style of jewellery, like anything that some accept and others reject, but I will always maintain the artistic sense of each jewellery piece I design, in terms of colours, shapes, and drawings, whether made of fancy or simple materials.
I want people to identify my works without signing it. The artistic character is like a signature, and “story and collage” are my tools for singing my works.
Who are the artists that influenced your jewellery design?
I was influenced by the works of Salvador Dali, Suzanne Belperron, Rene Lalique, and Paloma Picasso.
Locally, I love the works of Azza Fahmy and Zeinab Khalifa.
How did you move from mural to jewellery?
Thanks to the time I spent teaching at the Graphic Department at the Higher Institute of Applied Arts, the study of fine arts is different from the applied arts.
Fine arts is concerned with works of art and paintings, whereas applied arts is concerned with the use of art in making consumer products that interest the people, including jewellery.
I tried to imitate mural with its artistic character in designing jewellery, keeping the same style of “story and collage”. I went through many attempts, until I was able to achieve the usable model, according to the measurements and dimensions of jewellery pieces, taking into account safety of users.
I sought to transform the painting into a usable art product in daily life using a simple style.
Why do you use lots of mosaic in your paintings or jewellery pieces?
I love mosaics and its colours, and I adore the formations resulting from using it. I did not find it difficult to use it in jewellery, because of its various sizes and types.
Do you take into consideration the possible uses of each piece?
I pay great attention to measurements to ensure safety of users because I use materials that may harm a woman’s body or wearing when used. It should not have sharp protrusion or pointed edges so as not to scratch the clothes or the skin of users.
I also take into consideration the weight of jewellery, especially when using materials such as mosaic and tile, as heavy pieces may fall while wearing them.
Also wearing heavy weight earrings for long periods exposes the earlobe to being cut, and it widens the piercing of the ear. Also, long and heavy necklaces tire the neck.
Do Egyptian women still prefer to wear fancy jewellery?
A large segment of women are still holding on to jewellery made of precious metals, but the younger generation is looking for new styles, constant change, eye-catching, and cheap items.
What are the exhibitions that you have participated in, both mural and jewellery?
I have participated in several collective exhibitions at the Cairo Opera House and El Sawy Culture Wheel, including a collective exhibition called “Lamasat”, “plus 20” exhibition in Khan Maghrabi 2019, the Egyptian Forum for Heritage Ornaments 2017, the Festival of Ornaments Art in its third session 2016, and “Contemporary Jewellery Designers” at the Gezira Art Center in 2016. I also participated in Shagarat Al Dor Salon at Saad Zaghloul Cultural Center in 2016, and took part in “Tanawo’at” exhibition at the Gezira Art Center in 2015. In 2014, I participated in the “Spirit of Life” exhibition at Prince Taz Palace, and the Forum of Creativity for Women Arts at the 6th of October’s culture palace in 2014.
How did you deal with inflation and low purchasing power during the last period?
Alhough I use simple materials in the design of jewellery and murals, I was affected by the inflation. Most types of good mosaics are imported and their prices have been doubled, not to mention the high cost of silver, copper, and other materials.
What are your future plans?
I’m getting ready to produce a collection of jewellery with ideas inspired by Pharaonic heritage using materials from the environment, and I will integrate mosaics. I will focus on using the colours the Pharaohs used in the design of jewellery.
What was the most important thing you learned during your art journey?
Being aware of old and traditional styles and keeping up with new ones at the same time. Heritage is full of secrets and ideas that can be re-generated with innovation.
The academic period made me always keen to research and read, that was the fruit of that experience.
I try not to fall into the trap of the “comfort zone” because it is the beginning of failure for any person or artist.
Designers also need time to gain experience. They need to keep learning and going through experiences, as well as to be bold in their ideas.
I remember being afraid of criticism at the beginning of my career, but I then remembered that Pablo Picasso was hiding his “cubism” paintings at the beginning for fear of criticism.